One of the challenges in doing “off-site” events is the inability to predict what weird or dangerous event might happen. While at church we recognize many of the people coming in week to week, and every now and again a new face with interesting behavior might especially peak our interest and attention. However, meeting for a picnic or concert in the park brings a new set of challenges as was learned by a church in the Greenville, SC area a few weeks back.
Encountering someone who has mental health issues is usually a benign incident. While they may say or do things that are outside the realm of what most people consider normal, it is important to handle them with compassion and understanding using a regular speaking voice and attempting to understand what brought them to your church.
However, if they becoming threatening through statements or actions, it is important to realize they may be having a psychotic episode and it is important to involved local police to check on their welfare. If they are causing a disturbance, you may attempt to verbally convince them to move to another location, but understand it may be impossible. Just try to remain helpful, avoid embarrassing the person if possible, and make sure he doesn’t harm anyone or himself.
According to the Greenville Sun,
“A man who caused a disturbance Sunday afternoon at a church group gathering in Hardin Park on Crescent Drive earlier allegedly assaulted relatives at their home. Dustin Lee Strong, 21, of 3050 Chuckey Pike, is charged with two counts of aggravated domestic assault, vandalism and public intoxication in connection with the incident at Hardin Park, sheriff’s deputies and Greeneville police said in reports. Early Sunday morning, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Chuckey Pike address on a domestic disturbance call. The alleged victims told deputies that about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Strong “started breaking windows out of the residence” from outside. He was let into the house and allegedly assaulted the man and woman, using what the victims believe to be a flashlight. Both were struck on the head, leaving a “gash” wound on both alleged victims’ heads, a report said. Two house windows and a car window allegedly were broken by Strong during the incident. Strong was gone when deputies arrived. Greene County-Greeneville EMS treated the assault victims. About 1:45 p.m. Sunday, Greeneville police went to Hardin Park on a report of a man “verbalizing perplexing statements” at the church group gathering such as, “I am Satan’s son and I must have blood to drink,” a report said. Strong allegedly made “outlandish claims” to officers, telling them he was “cast down from the heavens and spreading wings” before descending to earth, the report said. Strong allegedly exhibited “nervousness and (a) highly agitated state of mind” and “jittery physical” mannerisms that led officers to believe he was under the influence of an intoxicating substance, the report said. Strong allegedly gave officers the name of “Samuel Lucifer Morningstar” when asked his identity. His actual name was confirmed at the Greene County Detention Center. Strong is held on no bond pending a first scheduled appearance today in General Sessions Court.”